I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. Dad finally had given in and let me take night watch over the graveyard. I had been begging him since I was ten to let me and now, on my sixteenth birthday the right was mine.
I pulled up my skirts and started to make my way through the grasses to the watchers post. Really the post was just a small shack with a old wooden chair and one window, but I was too excited to care. The gravestones around me sparkled in the dim light of sunset, showing off their beautiful marble edges. I ran my hand along the top of a taller headstone, feeling the cold rock begin to numb my fingers.
The grave was new. All of the dirt was still moist from being dug up and the bell had been put up with its string hanging down into the hole in case the unlucky person woke up. That's what I hoped for. A dead ringer.
Sure, I had heard stories of people being buried alive, but I had never seen it myself. I was ready though. If that bell rang I had my shovel and I was prepared to run over and dig up that dirt as fast as I could. I used to practice digging up graves as a child. Of course, it wasn't really a grave I was digging up, just patches of dirt in the woods behind our house, but I pretended. I even brought my own bell with me to ring. That's when I first found out my ability.
One night after dark I had decided to sneak out and practice my grave robbing skills. I knew where my neighbor, Ms. O'Hara, had buried a dog a year ago. It was back in the woods under an old oak tree. I took my shovel and headed out into the night. It hard been really cold and I had shivered under my thin dress, but I was on a mission.
The soil by the tree was really hard, especially in the cold of the night. After about half an hour I managed to unearth the dog's skeleton. I was proud of myself.
Staring at it I began to laugh. It would be so funny if it could still play fetch. So to entertain my imagination, I broke off a small branch from the oak tree and jiggled it in front of the dog's bones.
"Fetch!" I said and then I threw in a couple of feet off. I could see it in my head. The dog would slowly connect its skeleton back together and then bound off to get the stick, wagging its bony tail the whole way. Then, I could see it. At first the little bone dog scared me, but as it wagged its tail I knew it was harmless and just wanted to play. Every night after that I came back to the oak tree and played fetch with the dog. He'll probably was upset that I wasn't there the night I took graveyard duty.
The beginning of the night watch was pretty boring. I sat by the window watching the motionless field of graves. Around one in the morning I couldn't stand sitting there any longer so I decided to go for a walk.
I stopped by the new grave again and my eyes went to the little bell. Why didn't it ring? I had been dreaming it up all day. The bell would ring; I'd run to the grave with my shovel and dig it up, saving the person inside. I'd be a hero.
The bell rang.
My jaw dropped as I stared at the jingling bell. It took me a moment to move my arm that held my shovel. Soon, I was digging up the grave. The casket inside was pretty basic. My fingers grasped the edges and I pulled the top off.
I was stunned. The man inside was quite young. He sat up and looked right at me. This is where my fantasy turned on me. I was not a hero. As I looked back at him I noticed that he wasn't breathing.
"You're dead? You're not supposed to be dead!"
He didn't move. He just kept staring that blank stare at me. Not again, I thought. I already have to take care of a dead dog. How could I take care of a dead person too? It's not like I wanted to open a dead babysitting service.
So, I walked away and started to head back to the shack. Part way there I heard footsteps behind me. I turned around and saw the dead guy following my trail. He walked just like a normal person would. Maybe that was because he hadn't been dead long. I looked around at all the other graves that surrounded me.
"Why don't you all just get up?" I laughed. The laughing stopped the second I heard hundreds of bells ringing at the same time. I smacked my hand on my forehead. I just had to go and tell them all to wake up didn't I.
Four hours later, at around 5:30, they had all managed to get out their graves and sit around me in a circle. They were a mixture of skeletons, newly buried, and that really nasty in-between stage.
"What are you all waiting for? Some kind of command?" They kept staring. "Okay then. Ummm…everyone stand up." They did. I rolled my eyes. Of course they would be so obedient.
I shifted my gaze to the east. The sun was starting to rise. There was no way I could be seen in the daylight with this mass of dead people. So I thought quickly.
So, I walked out of the graveyard unharmed. I did wonder though, What would the day watch guy do when he saw a crop circle formation of dead people? Oh, well. That's their problem.